The DVSA have recently announced that they will not be investing in the technologies to read data from new smart tachographs. Following recent EU legislation which lead to the mandatory move from digital to smart tachographs in new commercial vehicles this summer, the agency stated that the cost of these new technologies are too high to justify the benefits.
So, how do these new smart technologies differ? Data from smart tachographs will be able to be read remotely and in real time, rather than vehicles having to be pulled over and stopped for this data to be read by enforcement agencies.
The idea behind these new tachographs would seem to benefit all parties – enforcement agencies will save a significant amount of time with all the necessary data at their fingertips, professional drivers’ schedules will not be disrupted and, most importantly, increases compliance, ensuring the safety of HGV drivers and other road users.
It can be understood why the DVSA has made this decision – with only new vehicles fitted with smart tachographs, they must still invest in manpower to maintain the physical checks necessary for current vehicles’ digital tachographs. This decision will have been further influenced by the fact that the same regulations which mean new vehicles must be fitted with smart tachographs only require that agencies employ full use of monitoring technologies in 2034 – 15 years away.
But where does this leave the logistics industry? And what does this say about the investments made to improve our sector?
It shows an inconsistency within policies. The latest technologies are being pushed on industry professionals – but, despite this, drivers are still being held to old rules by other parties, meaning that we cannot fully reap the benefits.
Surely, as an industry, embracing new technologies should be encouraged and made as easy and attractive as possible. Legislations which enforce new technologies which cannot be monitored by the appropriate enforcement parties can leave the industry feeling flat – as if the new advances in safety and efficiency are not taken as seriously as they should.
Should all bodies not be working together and moving at the same pace? The RHA certainly seems to think so – they have recently expressed their disappointment, with Tom Cotton, head of licensing and infrastructure at the RHA, stating: “Our members have invested in this technology to become compliant with these new regulations, so why is DVSA not prepared to show the same commitment?”
Surely, rather than holding off until more lorries are fitted in the future, a middle ground should be met which proportionately matches the use of new smart technologies and can be increased as more vehicles are equipped with them?